December 10, 2014

New Parent Organization Improves Education on Lanai

Photo of exterior of Lanai school campus showing sign.

Studies show that students who attend schools with an active parent-teacher organization are more likely to thrive academically and receive a well-rounded education. The formation of a new parent and community group called “Kakou,” meaning “all of us,” hopes to provide the same outcomes for Lanai High and Elementary School students, as well as offer fresh ideas, energy and support to the school’s faculty and staff.

“We’re very much like a PTA, but we renamed ourselves Kakou to remind us of Hawaiian values, especially inclusiveness and working together,” said Natalie Ropa, Kakou’s chairperson. Ropa, a project associate at UH-Maui College’s Lanai Education Center and a mother of an LHES student, believes strongly in education and is spearheading the effort. “What we’re doing is revitalizing this group of parents, teachers, students, and everyone in the community to support LHES, our teachers and education on Lanai.”

Support for parents, teachers and students

It’s not easy to get a new organization off the ground, but Kakou has received support from the LHES Foundation and a few hardworking parents and teachers. Since the beginning of this school year, the group has held several meetings, where teachers have presented their ideas on potential projects. “We want to provide support and care for the teachers because they are the ones who malama our children,” Ropa said. “Their ideas are so valuable because they see what is needed in the classrooms and schools for our children to succeed. We just provide a channel of communication between them and parents.”

Kakou’s first project is a mural on the back wall of the Pedro Dela Cruz Gymnasium. Kakou will donate supplies, help organize the event and provide food and drinks, but the mural will largely be a student effort. In the future, Ropa envisions a permanent spot on campus, like a home base, where parents will be able to gather regularly. Perhaps they’ll have smaller committees to take on more projects and offer more support and structure.

“Right now, our focus is on increasing membership, and then we’ll focus on fundraising, and then taking on projects,” Ropa said. “We’re doing things little by little, because we know they’ll grow into bigger and better things for our children.”

Join the cause

Kakou’s next meeting is at 5 p.m. on Monday, Dec. 15, in room P6 at LHES. After winter break, Kakou will meet again every other week — Jan. 12, Jan. 26, Feb. 9 and 23. Check the community calendar on for meeting dates.

The community is welcome to attend — parents, teachers, students, aunties, uncles, LHES alumni, anyone who cares about education. Just like the name implies, “We are all in this together.”

Email or attend the meeting to learn more about how you can “kakou” and get involved.

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